The arrival of March means that spring is officially within reach, and with it comes warmer weather, longer days—and the sudden urge to declutter every aspect of your life, from your closet to your finances.
If you’ve been itching to do a little spring cleaning with the change of seasons, these five to-dos will help you start fresh and get that much closer to reaching your financial goals.
1. Make Extra Cash Off Your Old Stuff
Deadline: Saturday, March 4
Whether it’s your closet, attic, basement or garage, we all have that place (or several) in our house that has been overtaken by old clothes, forgotten toys and other unwanted items. Reclaim your space and make some extra dough by selling what you no longer need. The best news? You don’t even have to go through the trouble of a yard sale; try one of these apps and let the offers roll in as you relax and enjoy all that extra room.
2. Take Charge of Your Student Loans
Deadline: Wednesday, March 8
Not sure if you’re making the best possible progress on your college debt? Then it’s time to take stock of your loans to see where you stand. Check in on your total balance, your interest rates and how much you have left to pay in public versus private loans.
If you have room in your budget to pay more than the minimum amounts due each month, concentrate your payment efforts on private loans with the highest interest rates first. Then try using this simple trick to pay down your debt faster.
3. Look for Errors in Your Credit Report
Deadline: Tuesday, March 14
It’s always wise to keep tabs on your credit report to make sure there’s nothing dinging your credit score. (Not sure how the two differ? Find out here.) And unfortunately, there may be times when your score suffers not because of anything you did, but because there are mistakes on your report—or, even worse, because you were the victim of identity theft.
So take a moment to request a copy of your credit report (you’re entitled to one free copy from each of the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—at AnnualCreditReport.com). Then, instead of just glossing over it to make sure it more or less matches your last report, take the time to go through your report with a fine-tooth comb to ensure there are no errors or mysterious charges that could be harming your creditworthiness.
4. Budget for Your Kids’ Summer Activities
Deadline: Thursday, March 23
While it may not even feel like spring yet, it’s already time to start thinking about your kids’ summer activities. Start sifting through those flyers and emails to see which camps or programs look the most interesting and offer the most bang for your buck. Then figure out how much you need to start saving in order to foot the bill come summertime. Planning for this now will not only help ensure your kids get a spot, it will also help you start budgeting for this non-monthly expense.
5. Find Spending Areas That Need Trimming
Deadline: Sunday, March 26
Your garden isn’t the only thing that may need a little pruning. Take a look at your household budget to see where you and your family could stand to cut back. Here’s a hint: It might be within your discretionary spending, at least according to the LearnVest 2016 Money Habits & Confessions survey. When asked in which spending categories they would like to see their significant other cut back, 33% of respondents said dining, 18% said clothing and 17% said entertainment. So take a close look at your credit card and bank statements for the past couple of months and see where you might need to make readjustments—and whether there are any financial goals you could put your money toward instead.
We know money isn’t the most comfortable thing to talk—or even think—about. So we’re here to help! Save your goal and we’ll help you stick with it at learnvest.com/havethetalk!